Turning Down the Noise with Quantum Control
+ With a computing process driven by quantum mechanics, quantum computers are touted as the potential solution to making not just a better way to make fertilizers but also better solar cells, innovative medical drugs and materials for extreme environments.
+ But to date, the quantum computers designed are too small to outperform even desktop computers, and they’re incredibly sensitive to electrical, magnetic, thermal and quantum “noise,” rendering them at best error-prone and at worst useless.
“If we could figure out how to address the ‘blind spots’ of DFT through more accurate simulations on quantum computers, we could likely invent a better process sooner,” Le said. “It would be a game-changer for many fields.”
+ “While the quantum world is quite different from its classical counterpart, a lot of the techniques that have been developed over the years can be translated from the classical to the quantum domain,” said Greg Quiroz, also a theoretical physicist at APL. “A large number of quantum control protocols have been either direct translations of or inspired by classical control protocols.”
+ The APL team is developing the schemes needed to add these controls to quantum computers, particularly developing protocols that can characterize the environmental variables causing noise, and adding protocols that will let programmers develop noise-resilient algorithms without needing to know all the ins and outs of what’s causing that noise. It’s a bit like putting up the scaffolding to help construct the final “quantum” building.
+ The work is still in the research phase, Clader noted. But using a combination of experimental work with small numbers of qubits — the fundamental “bit” of information in quantum computing — as well as some theory and modeling work, the team is taking steps toward developing the tools that can later be applied to large quantum processors as they become available.
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